New PhD Student-The Literature Review (Microbiology/Science Field)


Hiya, I hope everyone is well!!

I just started my PhD program about a week ago and I have not met with my supervisor yet as he is ill with the flu. He suggested I start to read and assemble articles for my literature review. I have found relevant sources and am currently reading through the articles.

I just wanted to see if anyone has any advice in how I should be approaching these. I have gone through each method so far in depth and (although I am finding with some papers regarding PCR methods don't give the full details and some plasmids etc are not commercially available etc.) also the results.. I have already found a few gaps I could possibly address. I know most requirements for a literature review are similar. But I just wonder if I am going to far I don't want to lose focus. Also does anyone know where there would be some good examples??



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I had the same issue as you Deb but luckily I was able to reach him outside of working hours. Which part of Microbiology are you focusing on? I might be able to assist. There's also a great resource here: if you're looking for specific literature. I've found some great references on there.

Hope it all goes well.


Okay I know very little about your particular field (read nothing!) but if you're just a week into your studies your supervisor will hardly expect you to have read anything in too much depth. Lots of people cast their net far too widely at the beginning of their work [and their lit review] and generally it's only with extensive reading that you are able to locate yourself in the field. It might be an idea to divide up what you have gathered into themes or areas and try to formulate a bigger picture of how you see your work fitting into the existing extant literature.


I would also suggest taking notes on the papers you are writing. I found it very useful when I had to write my literature review that I had the points I had written in the beginning (mainly copy and past from the articles for sentences/paras which were interesting) were very useful, particularly to get me started in writing. Most were useful in the introduction part, but a start nonetheless. And start referencing. Use endnote or whatever your uni suggests/gives you access to. Good luck


Hello London28!

Sounds like you are really on track and preparing well!! You are clearly trying to learn as much as you can and prepare yourself which is great!! But personally, I think you are maybe thinking about too much too soon. At this stage, you should just be thinking about what you want to do and not worrying too much about the technical particulars (i.e plasmid availability - thats something to think about when you come round to doing the experiments). At the minute it should just be about theory and general ideas of your area - i.e. more general review papers about what your studying. Anyway thats my opinion (I'm a third year life science PhD) so hopefully that helps you!! :-)



I would advice to read as specific on your topic as possible. Make sure you keep good notes and easily can go back to the source of information. Keep them in a way that you can easily compare the findings of similar papers together with the factors that might be affecting these results. The better you keep notes the easier it is to write your lit review, or even your discussion later on. Don't get discouraged, a good literature review is hard to write and it might take ages.

Good luck, try to find a studying schedule that fits you and stick to it.